Interview with longtime CPO volunteer, Barbara McIntosh

On December 3, 2021, Ellie DiMauro had the opportunity to interview longtime CPO volunteer, Barbara McIntosh.

Ellie: How did you first get involved with CPO?

Barb: I started in the Master Gardener program in 2015 and saw how the men appreciated us being there and the difference we made, I got hooked! It is clear that they learned a great deal since they grew all the vegetables and flowers for the gardens and aided in the landscaping this past year.

Ellie: What is the most memorable moment or accomplishment of your volunteer experience?

Barb: In a general sense, how the men appreciate any program and their willingness to learn and work together on something new. That was very memorable to me. Because we do horticulture and grow things, it’s a great opportunity for them to try the fruits of their labor and savor every bite. You get to watch them really enjoy what they produce! One participant stood out to me, he hadn’t gardened before and this was his first experience. We showed him how to plant and maintain seeds to grow vegetables; when he started to see them grow, he started jumping up and down. It was so rewarding to see his excitement. That stuck in my mind, to see the excitement of watching someone that we taught something new to and get so excited about it. It allows the men to learn a trade they can take with them upon release.

Ellie: What would you tell a prospective volunteer about being a CPO volunteer?

Barb: I would tell them that it’s such a rewarding experience and that the men really appreciate you being there and treat you like family. CPO provides great support and educational opportunities.

Ellie: Has volunteering impacted your life?

Barb: It’s really a blessing in my life. I look forward to each time I do it and every new learning activity. I do two different programs at NECC and providing these programs has thoroughly enriched my life and the lives of others. I find that when your commitment is to make a difference with others, it lessens any problems or upsets you might be facing at the time. It leaves you with the difference that you make and it’s truly an empowering experience. Contributing to others lets you live life fully.

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